Consumer goods giant P&G’s latest report lays out an admirable vision, but leaves the reader uncertain the company is taking the concrete steps to realise it
When candle maker William Procter and soap maker James Gamble founded their business during the US financial panic of 1837, sustaining the company for 175 years was probably not top of mind. Yet today Procter & Gamble (P&G) is looking ahead to how a global corporation can achieve long-term sustainability in a consumer society with diminishing natural resources. For a company producing thousands of diverse products at 130 manufacturing plants around the world, the potential benefit to the environment and the people who depend on it is significant.
P&G’s 2012 Sustainability Report, its 14th, is a strikingly designed 83-page PDF (a 32-page overview is also available). The report is structured around three main areas: products, operations, and social responsibility. A separate section covers employees and stakeholders. The report discloses performance related to P&G’s 2007-2012 sustainability goals and states new, generally ambitious goals for 2020. Performance reporting is supported by useful data visualisations, statistics and case studies.
Although the report makes no explicit mention of materiality, the list of topics covered is comprehensive and the weighting of issues seems appropriate to the sector.
P&G’s report shows admirable long-term vision. However, it struggles to bring a fully convincing action plan into focus.
Taken at face...